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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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it is just and rational to expect anyone to curtail family size do not occur in dire poverty. Infant mortality rates are high enough, educational opportunities scarce enough, job opportunities uncertain enough to undermine the usual rationale for careful family planning. Alleviating conditions of poverty and delivering better health care to the poor must be part of any population policy, if it is to be just and effective.
Clearly, population policies that employ positive and negative incentives will create injustices by discriminating against the poor and by bringing about less advantageous economic conditions, or even poverty where penalties are severe, for the children of parents who are subject to penalties or who fail to gain rewards, unless special adjustments are made for these groups. However, making these adjustments may reduce the effectiveness of incentive programs. In any event, there is no direct evidence that incentives reduce birth rates and, therefore, no assurance that any injustices that might be perpetrated though the use of incentives would be worth the price.
What about the use of compulsion to secure the goals of population policy? Compulsion, on the face of it, is the most predictable and rational way to achieve the exact birth rates considered desirable or necessary for a given nation. Boulding has suggested marketable licenses to have children in whatever number that would ensure a zero growth rate, say 2.2 children per couple: the unit certificate might be the deci-child, and accumulation often of these units by purchase, inheritance, or gift, would permit a woman in maturity to have one legal child (24). Another proposal by Ketchel advocates mass use by government of a fertility-control agent that would lower fertility in the society by 5 to 75 percent less than the present birth rate, as needed (19). Such a substance is now unknown but would, he believes, be available for field testing after 5 to 15 years of research. It would be put in the water supply in urban areas and introduced by other methods elsewhere. Variants of compulsory sterilization, both temporary and permanent, and compulsory abortions have been proposed as well (8, 25).
Aside from the obvious technical and administrative difficulties of all of these proposals, especially in less developed countries, the effectiveness of a policy of compulsion is directly dependent upon its ethical acceptability. Any law can be disobeyed, or subverted, and the problem of punishing offending parents is especially acute. Could it be done, for example, without inflicting suffering upon innocent children? Obviously fines and jail sentences would be a hardship for children as well as parents no matter what provision society would make for the children. Compulsory sterilizations and abortions could be used to enforce a specific quota of children per couple, but these methods are ethically unacceptable J'or reasons that will be discussed later.
Compulsion, like incentives, discriminates against the poor. Restricting the very poor to two or three children would render their lives much Icssjoyous,